tiny garden: growing herbs in the city.

May 13, 2015

tiny garden: city herbs Our window boxes, from above.tiny garden: city herbs Italian parsely and thyme.
tiny garden: city herbs Weathered window boxes and herb starts.
tiny garden: city herbs A tiny purple basil start.
tiny garden: city herbs So much about city gardening success lies in the expectations. Tiny city window boxes perched on shady cornices can’t always provide much in the way of optimal conditions for growing edibles, but they can offer a little touch of green and the occasional nibble and sometimes that’s all you really need.

In other words, you can’t expect a bumper crop of basil or tarragon from a shady sill, but you can expect some pleasantly fragrant little plants if you stick them in the sunniest place you can muster and remember to water them. Your basil might not be a plant you’ll be able to harvest regularly for pesto, but it will be one that you can pluck a few leaves from to add to your summer salad or fresh bruschetta or use to garnish your cocktail. And who doesn’t like a basil garnish?

Two weeks ago the temperatures soared and it’s been feeling downright summery in New York ever since. I potted up my two tiny window boxes with a few starts in hopes in for at least a little bit of edible green things. This year I chose flat-leaf Italian parsley, chives, oregano, thyme and basil and did my best to fight the impulse to crowd them too much. Like most herbs, they’re all sun-loving plants, but these ones tend to do okay when there’s not an abundance of direct sunshine. I haven’t tried basil on this ledge before, but last summer I noticed a neighbor on the same side of the street with a huge and healthy looking plant, so I’m giving it a whirl. And I’m proud to report that my little starts have doubled in size since I took these photos. Even better, they’re no worse for wear after a few days out of town. More progress reports to come, eventually.

For the curious:
Similar teak planters.

PS. Patience! I didn’t love my teak planters when I bought them, but three years later, they’ve developed exactly the kind of silvery patina that I’d hoped for.

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9 Comments

  • Reply thebalconydresser May 13, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    I couldn't agree more, gardening pleasure can be found even on the smallest window sills. And not only herbs, also salads or small vegetables like radishes are easily grown even in tiny planters.

    • Reply Erin May 13, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      Yes, totally! Have you had luck with baby veg varieties where there's not tons of sun? I've always hesitated because of our lack of direct sunlight!

    • Reply admin May 13, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      Yes, totally! Have you had luck with baby veg varieties where there's not tons of sun? I've always hesitated because of our lack of direct sunlight!

  • Reply Christine Amorose May 13, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    The very first thing I was going to ask was…what are those boxes! Thank you for mind reading πŸ™‚ And I actually made batch of turkey meatballs the other night and as I was mixing things up, I thought: my herbs! So I ran down to my courtyard and plucked a few stems of oregano and parsley, and I swear, it made the meatballs so much more delicious!!!

    • Reply Erin May 13, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      Oh good! Glad to point you in the right direction πŸ˜‰

    • Reply admin May 13, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      Oh good! Glad to point you in the right direction πŸ˜‰

  • Reply Abigail Ettelman May 13, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    I love this! My current apartment has one truly hideous window box (fake wooden tulips sprouting from the box??) and I've been wanting a little window garden… you've inspired me.

  • Reply beccarowley May 14, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    Oh! I just adore your tiny little boxes with their tiny little herbs. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Jordannaβ€” The House of Muses May 18, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Lovely! πŸ™‚ I've been struggling with gardening this year tooβ€” squirrels keep digging up my seeds and throwing all the dirt out the planter before they have a chance to sprout. πŸ™ The purple basil looks nice! Is it much different from sweet basil?

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